19.8.12

Countryside and Rights of Way Act (2000)

Whilst public rights of way provide the main linear means of access in Neath Port Talbot, the CROW Act significantly increased the opportunities for members of the public to gain pedestrian access to designated areas of the countryside.  The Act allows public access on foot to land classified as open country which is defined as ‘mountain, moor, heath or down’, and provides similar public access rights on all registered common land.
Land classified as access land under the Act is indicated on maps prepared by CCW and those maps will be reviewed every ten years.
The areas of land which have become available for public access as a result of the CROW Act comprise:
1374 hectares open access land
1151 hectares common land
The County Borough Council register of common land, and the maps of CROW Act access land, are available for public inspection at the Council offices.
Following the CROW Act, the County Borough Council has surveyed the open access land and common land, to ensure it is available for public use.  All rights of way which enter open access land have been waymarked to inform members of the public that they are entering such land.  The Council will continue to monitor access to these areas of land and will attempt to respond to any requests for additional means of access received from members of the public.
In addition to the access rights referred to above, the CROW Act also provides landowners with opportunity to dedicate their land for public access.  The Forestry Commission has dedicated all its freehold estate for public access, and this amounts to 13,480ha in Neath Port Talbot.  A further 2588ha of land is held by the Commission under leasehold title, but unfortunately there are no immediate plans to provide a formal public right of access to this land.  Nevertheless, the forest plantations provide a vast area of land which is now available for walking, pedal cycling and horse riding


Made me chuckle so thought I'd share ..........the question isnt Ray or Lofty or Bear of course really the question what can I learn from each of them??

15.8.12

video

video

video
photo video journal of my solo hike in Sweden (just to see if this works ...................but enjoy)

12.8.12

Emergency Cooker 71.

 

The swiss army alcohol stove is now a well known peice of kit and is a stove I really like - indeed its the stove I carry all the time so if I cant have a fire I can at least have a stove handy.

The alc stove can be carried on a flight in your hold luggage so its useful in as much as you can pack a couple for a trip and not have to worry about stoves or fuel at your destination.

Operation is simple - cut out the foil inner to expose the gel - light - put on windshield and use ............however trail and error has also taught me that if you want to conserve fuel or slow the cook time down you can split the foil as left below ........ basically the bigger the hole to hotter the burn.


But generally my advise is remove the foil and light (using the matches that come with the cooker handly!)


The two mess tins below both held one standard cup of water - boiled from cold (both mess tin and water) and whilst not scientific the boil time was approx 6 minutes to boiling and just over seven to get to a rolling boil.
 

 To speed up the boil time we can of course cover one mess tin - as below by using the large mess tin as a lid for the smaller the boil time increased by nearly two minutes saving both time and fuel.


The smaller mess tin is general my preference and is more stable on the stove and seems to boil quicker even with the same amount of water in it as the larger!

Another "bonus" of the gel cooker I found when I did my solo trek in Sweden in June was that the gel also makes an excellent tinder or fire starter and on several rainy days I lit my evenings camp fire using a stick and a blob of the gel.

One disadvantage (but ive not found it to be the case) is that the gel in theory would be less effective in the cold - of course this can be countered by carrying the stove in a pocket or some such or pre-heating it if needs be.

Another down side is that generally one stove only lasts about a day - or three burns, although I usually spoon the gel from a second stove into a single pot to ensure I have a weekends burn time, or sterilizing or sterno gel can be added to a pot. One thing I have found is the gelling agent used in these stoves must also work on other alc gels as adding standard hand cleansing gel (which is quite runny) I have found it thickens up "over night" in the pot .......... and then produces less soot too.

But another plus is the gel being alc can also be used to sterilise hands or other items.

So a few pros and cons but generally these make the stove far more versatile than most standard forms of cooker and as such thats why it earns its place in my haversack! 

Overal the NOTROCHER 71 does exactly what it says on the tin and is a excellent emergency cooker ........... 

11.8.12

No matter what you say, no matter how many times I try I always seem to come back to the Mora Classic. In particular the No3.

Now I still maintain that generally I seem to get the most milage from my trail hawk and my pocket knife. Usually this is just a SAK as if I have my keys with me I have that knife.





But that said I almost always carry a sheath knife in my pack too. Usually for processing wood beyond that which the hawk can do i.e carving. Experience has also taught me that a larger bladed sheath knife is useful for other tasks like carving or butchering game too - my choice as I say above is a Mora Classic No3 with its 6 inch blade. This knife is light weight, in expensive, robust and easily maintained so fits my bill for a camp knife nicely.

I also like the plastic sheath as this makes it easily cleaned if contaminated whilst preping game.

BUT ............ the devil makes work for ideal hands so today I had a little play and "pimped" the mora's sheath - I also made another sheath for the No3 a while ago to give it a mountain man style leather jacket to rest in.

I want to have a play changing the scales - years ago I put a antler handle on a old no2 but havent gotten around to a No3 yet (another thing about the Mora's cost that it makes it very attractive to trial and error when playing!)

Anyway heres the two sheath's ...........






One simple - tough looking and the other .....................busy ") but a handy little collection of component parts that make it a mini possibles pouch in its own right!!

Anyway just thought I'd share .........
 
Lastly, bit of an after thouhgt and one I'll add to avoid confusion - as much as I love the No3 - and the M95 - and my Brusletto Bamsen I still think the best overall bushcraft knife of the modern age - common man or not - is the MORA TRIFLEX .......so if you only carry one knife carry the triflex - but if you want a larger camp knife and a good alrounder the price of the Mora range means you can carry both a triflex and a No3 or any other combination you fancy.  


(I just wish mora would concentrate the same robust quality on their sheathes as they do their knives but thats another story)





9.8.12

It doesnt happen often, in fact its a rare event altogether but today I had a epithany. Well more a rude awakening via the wisedom of one of my off spring.

My eldest daughter, nursey poohs and "the only member of this family who ever went to Uni" was watching me pack and unpack a Berghaus Munro as I tried to get the contents of my bedroll plus a British army bivi bag and a US army patrol sleeping bag into its tight little tummy ........ 30 litres hmmm?? I wonder!

Anyway "dad," she says, "what are you trying to do?"

"Pack a minimalist rucksack for next time I got to the woods" I replied.

"oh, dont you usually only take minimal stuff?"

Ding! Light blub on moment!

"ya I do! .......but."

"what you got in there thats less then?"

"Errr nothing really I just wanted to pack it in something smaller,"

"oh .............." strange look and rolling eyes with that scornful 'whatever' sigh of condemnation.

And she was right, on three scores as it happened.

Firstly, what was I carrying that was less? Nothing, I'd replaced a sleeping bag with a poncho liner and dropped my ground mat but thats not really worth writing home about.

Secondly, obviously my bedroll and haversack set up combined was of greater volume than my Munro ...........

Thirdly, and this is echoing what Ross and Waldergiesty bloke were saying, minimal kit is just that - minimal kit, its not going without kit, leaving behind kit NOR is it carrying loads of kit just in case ...........its the minimum kit required to ensure the survival of the Starship Me as I voyage around the wilderness, minimal kit is really your life boat and skills your rudder and sail.

So with that in mind heres my minimal kit list ................

1. Swedish Army LK35 rucksack + Haversack
2. US Army green sleeping bag – British Army bivi bag
3. Poncho
4. Mess tins (stainless steel)
5. Rations + brew kit
6. Spare socks, t-shirt
7. Wash kit and house wife
8. Buffalo M/shirt
9. Woolly hat & Gloves
10. 2x 58 pattern bottles, mug and filter
11. stove
12. A pair of work gloves
14. Possibles bag (first aid, cordage, axe stone, Etc)
15. Cutting tools
16. Tomahawk
 
Haversack to be used if room required – mess tins and rations, condiments inc can opener, filter, bottle and cup, spoon, stove, sheath knife (when not worn) – tomahawk etc - and for day hikes away from camp.

So there you go - full circle and back to a minimal kit that does everything I need of it, back to what I always carry - the bedroll is still a good idea, its fun and gives you reason to flex the brain a bit but for minimalism maybe we should do just that carry the "sensible" minimum and not shed kit just for the sake of it!


5.8.12

In my comments to bedrolling I said, "no issues at all if someone wants to camp in a RV or VW beetle van ....... if they want to carry a 120 litre bergen thats down to them and their back (skills aside) - I often use one as you know. I also often use a LK35 depending on my mood and what I want to do, the skills come into it in as much as I am not limited to one choice, I can have the full Ray Mears Style outfit or just a blanket, a knife and a billy can"

The key sentence there is "skills come into it in as much as I am not limited to one choice," now I couldnt get out this weekend so i thought I'd think laterally and have a play at home. If someone didnt want to carry a bedroll but liked the idea of, or needed guidance to help them, going minimal how could this help?

Obviously I can not suggest a replacement for learning the skills - skills can only be learnt by doing, and if your fear of going minimalist is due lack of skills you know the answer to your dilemma! If your fear of going minimalist is just down to comfort thats a different matter, although I would say comfort is relative. But with average skills most people can strip down their kit and live comfortably in the woods, after all our ancestors managed it and as a soldier I would often live in the woods for weeks at a time with only the clothes on my back, a sleeping bag, mat, tarp, metal mug and one warm top almost everything else I carried was military equipment!!

I filmed a video genetic kit list (.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnE_Es5u4nI&feature=g-upl) about 2 years ago and this list is still pretty much the same so works as a good guide line even today.

So lets say the idea of the bedroll and haversack isnt for you, lets say you want to or prefer to carry a pack on your back - is this a problem?? No, of course not (although one thing I have found bedrolling is that you dont get a sweaty back like you do with a rucksack!) its the minimalist principle, the use of skils rather than kit dependancy is what matters.

Now to give you an idea of the space used by a bedroll and haversack I tried repacking my entire rig into a daysack. And my kit fitted comfortably into a 30 litre Artis patrol pack in its entirity!!

This said maybe the "bedrolling" tag was wrong and "bushcraft minimalism" might be more to the point - but the fact remains - whether you go for a bedroll or a daysack, minimal kit free's you from the tyranny of kit dependancy and teaches you the importance of skills not kit!

1.8.12

Bedrolling - the future??

It seems there is great interest in bucking the "expedition" style, sitting around the campfire in your shiny gear, my knife cost more than your knife" modern bushcraft trend.

I like to think many of us dyed in the wool outdoorsy types have either seen the light or simply grown beyond the easy option! There is a time and a place for it (glamping or rough camping), of course, but when a bushcraft meet becomes no harder than a weekend camping with the family, and as craft orientated as the octoberfest, surely something as changed and probably not for the better.

Now I hate this need to name something, but to get the ball rolling, we need to define what we are talking about - its hard to write about something without a name so I thought to call it bushcraft for the common man (only joking) as has been pointed out the common man tag is as much a marketing gimmick as ......... well, bushcraft is these days ....... Karl over on his blog (http://ranger-pathfinder-notes.blogspot.co.uk/) calls it Neo-traditional(ism) which is a gob full even if it is accurate but I fancy something simplier.

So how about

Noun

backwoodsman (plural backwoodsmen)
  1. A person who is acclimated to living in a forest area that is far removed from civilization or modern conveniences.
  2. An uncivilized person.

Noun

backwoodsmanship (plural backwoodmanships)
  1. the skill of living in the backwoods
Although this is a little to "pioneer america" it does at least do what it says on the tin.

Or

Swagman


A swagman (also called a swaggie, sundowner or tussocker) is an old Australian[1] and New Zealand[2] term describing an underclass of transient temporary workers, who travelled by foot from farm to farm carrying the traditional swag (bedroll). Also characteristic of swagman attire was a hat strung with corks to ward off flies.

This has appeal as a swag is just a bedroll by another name.........and both of these I like but are they suitable?? I dont know (maybe you can suggest something better - infact lets have a vote, list your choice of definition in the comments and lets see what others think)

Maybe worrying about a name is just to bushcraft but for a working title I think "BEDROLLING" will do until I find something better.

So what is bedrolling?? (Hell ya lets define it to!)

Bedrolling is the ability to travel into a wilderness area with ONLY the minimal kit, i.e the contents of a bedroll for shelter/sleeping in and the contents of a haversack for possibles.

A bedroller is a outdoorsman who has the ability to travel into a wilderness area with the minimum of kit and use his wilderness living skills and knowledge to sustain himself and meet his daily needs. He is a minimalist with advanced skills and knowledge.

How does that sound??

So, my fellow BEDROLLERS welcome to the future, welcome to the past ............ what are the skills needed to live comfortably in the wilds? what is minimum kit??

How many of us are there?? How do you do it??

So many questions and a world full of answers .................. watch this space for a few of the answers ..........or at least my version of them

Swagman circa 1900

Bedroller circa 2012